Summary of research project
Conventional sex estimation of human skeletal remains involves visual analysis of the cranium and pelvis, which are susceptible to both subjective interpretation and poor preservation. Metric sex estimation by discriminant function analysis (DFA) is an alternative method which statistically analyses how bone metrics can discriminate between males and females of a population, resulting in equations which can be used to estimate the sex of an unknown individual using their skeletal metrics. This approach allows for a statistically supported and objective sex estimation to be made, including cases of poor preservation and fragmentation.
This project aims to develop such models of metric sex estimation by DFA for use within British osteoarchaeology. This development requires two core considerations:
Excavated skeletal remains are often poorly preserved. This project therefore seeks to develop metric methods using robust skeletal elements such as the tarsals, glenoid fossa, patella, and distal and proximal long bones.
DFA models are typically considered to be population specific, in that they are recommended to be developed separately between countries due to variations in skeletal metrics.
However, transferring the method to osteoarchaeology involves the consideration of populations of the same country that may be centuries apart. These populations will also have been subject to differing variables such as nutrition, disease load, urban vs. rural habitats, industrialisation, division of labour, genetic admixture, political economies and more.
This project will therefore examine the impact of such temporal and societal differences on skeletal metrics and the resulting impact on the cross-applicability of metric sex estimation models across British populations.
The outcome of this project will be the development of metric sex estimation models for use within British osteoarchaeology, allowing for greater proportions of skeletal samples to be biologically profiled. The considerations of temporal and societal specificity will further the overall understanding of population specificity within metric methods, and whether it is appropriate to consider population specificity by country alone, or a more nuanced consideration is required.
I originally completed my BSc in Psychology at the University of York in 2013. I returned to education in 2018 to complete my MSc in Forensic Anthropology and Biology, during which I developed a strong interest in skeletal analysis and biological profiling, within both forensic anthropology and osteoarchaeology.
My broad research interest is the development of statistically supported methods of biological profiling, including the refinement of existing methods and the development of new ones. I also have a particular interest in the development of metric sex estimation methods for fragmented skeletal remains.